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Palliative Care for Parkinson’s

[The Parkinson's Podcast™]

Palliative Care for Parkinson’s


If you’d prefer to read the full transcript of the episode, you can download that here, or read the full transcript at the bottom of this page.

There’s a lot of confusion about what palliative care is. Part of the problem is that the term is often used interchangeably with hospice, even though they’re not the same thing. 

Palliative care refers to services that are designed to ease suffering and improve quality of life at ALL stages of an illness such as Parkinson’s and for an undetermined amount of time, not just end stages. Hospice is a specific subset of palliative care that provides end-stage care usually in the final six months of life.

In other words, palliative care is an approach that improves quality of life for people with Parkinson’s and their families and could provide great benefit from the moment someone receives a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

In this episode with Dr. Maya Katz, you will learn: 

  • About the full spectrum of palliative care 
  • The importance of being more precise in our language so that the people who would benefit from it are not scared away by it
  • The difference between depression and anxiety
  • How to become more resilient so you can live better with Parkinson’s
  • The common health consequences that Parkinson’s care partners face
  • One of the most important actions you can take to live well with Parkinson’s


  • Using the language of palliative care for Parkinson’s may prevent people who need it from getting it
  • Call it supportive care
  • Palliative care addresses the whole person
  • It starts from the moment of diagnosis
  • Palliative care for Parkinson’s has a marketing problem – we’re trying to fix that with new language
  • Difference between depression and anxiety is that anxiety is the normal adjustment response to a difficult diagnosis, and it’s tied to grief and guilt
  • There’s continued loss with Parkinson’s – loss, grief, resolution, loss, grief, resolution
  • True depression and anxiety in people with Parkinson’s is the result of a chemical change in the brain
  • Treat it with medications to replenish chemical deficiency and loss of neurotransmitters
  • In conjunction with therapy, you can learn the skills needed to deal with difficult emotions
  • It can take a year to get used to a Parkinson’s diagnosis
  • It’s important to know that it’s a process and there are tools to help you become more resilient
  • One must have compassion and patience for people who get a Parkinson’s diagnosis
  • In our palliative care clinic, we work with care partners individually so that each loved one has dedicated time to discuss their challenges
  • There are health consequences to being a Parkinson’s care partner; so, it’s important for care partners to make their own health and well-being a priority as well
  • It’s also important to reduce isolation, get out there, set intentions for your days/life and know that health isn’t just about treating symptoms

Concepts Mentioned in this Podcast & Further Reading

How to Build Resiliency and Live Well with Parkinson’s
How to Stay Healthy and Avoid Burnout as a Parkinson’s Care Partner
How to Reduce Social Isolation While Living with Parkinson’s
5 Reasons to Start or Join a Women’s Only Parkinson’s Support Group
Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project
Palliative Care and Parkinson’s Disease
Social Capital and the Value of Relationships in Parkinson’s


Maya Katz - Palliative Care - Davis Phinney Foundation

Dr. Maya Katz is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the UCSF Movement Disorders and Neuromodulation Center. She specializes in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. Her research interests include identifying neuroprotective strategies and improving outcomes for patients treated with deep brain stimulation. She is the Co-Director of the UCSF Movement Disorders Palliative and Supportive Care Clinic, which provides comprehensive interdisciplinary care to optimize all aspects of wellbeing and quality of life.

Dr. Katz obtained her medical degree at Cornell University. She completed her residency in Neurology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where she served as chief resident. She then completed her Movement Disorders Fellowship at UCSF in 2013. Dr. Katz is board certified in Neurology and is an active member of the American Academy of Neurology and the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.


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4 Comments on “Palliative Care for Parkinson’s

    • Joe

      December 8, 2018 at 12:28 pm Reply

      If we are dx at younger age with school age family at home, it seems we are doomed to keep on working full time to support our family, while watching our health go down, because our days and years remaining are spent slaving away to make a living, instead of exercising as the retires just dx can do! Why must we wait for our body to rot before we can qualify for disability and be able to spend our days preventing the progression?

      • Melani Dizon

        December 10, 2018 at 9:06 am Reply

        Hi Joe – Thanks for listening to our interview with Dr. Maya Katz. We’ve heard from a lot of people who are in a similar situation as you and understand the frustration of trying to take care of yourself while also making sure you have the time, money and resources to take care of your family over the long-term. While it sounds like time is very tight for you, even just short bouts of exercise throughout the day can have a positive effect on Parkinson’s symptoms. I know it’s not ideal, and it can be difficult to get an exercise plan going when you already have so many responsibilities; however, exercise is the one thing that truly can make a difference in how you feel on a day-to-day basis. Even better if you can find something you love to do that not only helps relieve your Parkinson’s symptoms but makes you very happy in the process. Perhaps starting with small exercise goals for 2019 will make it seem more doable and sustainable?
        All the best to you.

    • Mary Farrell

      January 22, 2019 at 1:28 pm Reply

      Really really enjoyed these podcasts,super informative,surely hope they continue for another year..looking forward to starting the Resilience class on the 30th..,ideas for podcast…new trends,boxing, exercise,more caregiving hints,occupational,speech,physical therapy,hints

      • Melani Dizon

        January 22, 2019 at 3:01 pm Reply

        Thanks for the ideas, Mary. I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast, and we’re looking forward to having you in class.

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